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SHREK FOREVER AFTER

About The Production (Continued)
…RE-IMAGINING THE INHABITANTS OF FAR FAR AWAY…

The moment he signs the deal with Rumpel, Shrek finds himself more an ogre out of his swamp than a fish out of water. His reality torn to shreds, he is thrown into an alternate reality that at first, appears to be the same. The surroundings look and even feel familiar. At first Shrek thinks it's great, but soon discovers he's been tricked.

The final straw of realization comes when he is attacked by Rumpel's henchwomen, the witches. Armed with smoke bombs, they capture Shrek and cart him off for a face-to-face meeting with Rumpel. Fortunately, Shrek sees a ray of hope in recognizing his waffle-loving best friend Donkey pulling the cart that cages him. This Donkey, however, looks the worse for wear and in bad need of a day at the groomer. 

Taking well-known and beloved characters and throwing them into a new set of circumstances can be a challenging and daunting task for any filmmaker. Comments director Mitchell, "That's what made it so exciting to work on.” Adds producer Shay, "Even though it was risky, Mike, Teresa and I wanted to completely uproot our beloved inhabitants of Far Far Away and place them in a drastically altered universe.”

Because the characters in the world of Shrek are some of the most well thought-out and rich characters developed, they must pass the litmus test, meaning the core of the character, their "voice” and personality, rings true even in a completely foreign and new situation or story plot.

While this was on the minds of the entire of crew, nobody knew this better than executive producer Aron Warner, who was at the producing helm of three previous installments. "The real secret is to ground stuff in the reality we already know,” he explains. "Deep down, they are the same characters that audiences know and love and so long as they behave and act the same way they would under normal circumstances, they'll stay true to their core.” 

To illustrate his point, Warner refers to the scene where Shrek and Donkey finally meet in the new Far Far Away. Shrek has finally figured out what has happened. "Shrek is at his lowest,” explains Warner. "He reconnects with Donkey and despite the alternate world, you see the core of their relationship is the same.”

Acting the same in new environments or circumstances is one thing, but when it came to altering the looks of Donkey and Puss In Boots, the crew had to re-think their approach in the execution of the animation, rigging and modeling. "We had to really imagine how each character's life would be, how they would act, had they never met Shrek,” explains Mitchell.

Re-envisioning Donkey presented a whole new set of obstacles for the crew. "It's a delicate line because you want to be true to the character's personality,” explains Jason Reisig, head of character animation. To maintain their personalities the filmmakers kept the trademark enthusiasm of Donkey and Puss In Boots' cleverness and sly delivery intact. The end result is watching how that enthusiasm plays out while Donkey is under the employ of the witches and as Puss lives the life of a pampered fat-cat. 

For the visual effects team, however, the new looks of Donkey and Puss brought forth a new set of obstacles. "Donkey presented a big challenge as his fur is a bit longer now,” explains Oliver Finkelde, head of character effects. "Since the fur is longer, we have to make sure the skin [of the model] is not overlapping so we either go back to the animation department and ask them to adjust, or we actually deform the skin so there is a gap between, say, the leg and the chest.” Due to the additional amount of volume and fur on Puss, the crew faced similar challenges in the modeling and rigging of the feline. 

Of course, those obstacles also paved the way for more than a few humorous moments. "Puss

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